BOSTON (WWLP) – Last week, the Massachusetts legislature took steps to protect public spaces. Having passed the Senate and the House, the bill now goes before the Governor for his consideration.

The legislature took steps last week to make sure open spaces are protected for future generations to come. In 1972, Article 97 passed as a ballot initiative. It’s purpose was to ensure the protection of public lands for public use. Conservation lands under Article 97 have protected status, and sale or conversion of land must be approved by a two thirds vote by each branch of the legislature.

For years, lawmakers have made sure of a “no net loss” for open spaces, meaning when Article 97 land is disposed of, equal land is deemed open space. The language that passed, known as the Public Land Preservation Act, codifies a ‘no net loss’ policy, making it legally binding.

Senate President Karen Spilka said in a press release, “As we work to mitigate the effects of climate change we see and feel every day, it’s important that we do not allow the quality and acreage of open lands in Massachusetts to decrease.”

The conference committee report includes a term that allows for cash payment rather than comparable land. The payment would need to be at least 110% of the value of the land and the money would need to be used to purchase replacement land within three years of said sale.

This legislation originally passed the Senate in April and passed the House in July before it moved to conference committee. Now that this legislation has passed in both the House and the Senate, it currently is on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.